My Mom wants a Feed Reader

I had an interesting conversation with my Mom earlier today about the flickr account I recently set up. She was very excited about all the new pictures. And to my surprise she wanted to learn more about the other web stuff I had mentioned recently. In particular, the feed reader. She didn’t quite understand what it was, but I’m super excited that my mom wants a feed reader, so this post is to help her (and anyone else) out.

What does a feed reader do and why do I want one?
There is too much information in world. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that we need new coping strategies for managing the data deluge.

This is where feeds come in. Every website has the ability to wrap up a portion of its content, label it and tell the world, “hey, here’s my latest content. Check it out.” This is a called a syndication feed and it’s a very powerful thing for a couple of reasons:

1) You don’t have to spend energy searching for new content. It comes to you. You don’t have to visit 50 blogs on a daily basis. You visit one place — your feed reader — to see which blogs have been updated.

2) Syndication feeds can be sliced and diced like you wouldn’t believe. For example, do you check the Trixie Update because you like to read all the new comments? I could (should) set up a feed that syndicates user comments. That way you don’t have to come to the Trixie Update and visually scan the site to see what story has a new comment. You could simply add a “Trixie Update Recent Comments” feed to your reader. Pretty cool idea, right?

How do I get a feed reader?
Again, I’m going to strongly recommend Google reader. Go to google.com/reader. If you don’t have a google account, you’ll need to create one.

Once you are on your Google Reader page, it will be empty — but not for long. Click “Add subscription” on the top left. Paste ‘trixieupdate.com’ to the field and click ‘add’. You’ll then see the latest 10 articles from the Trixie Update marked as ‘New’ in your reader. As you click through each one you’ll notice that number of ‘New’ articles decreases until you’ve seen them all. Congrats! You’re all done. You’ve read all your feeds.

Add a few more blogs in there and you’ll soon start checking your feed reader before you spend time visiting actual site around the web. Mom, I hope this helps. Good luck!

PS. If someone says RSS, they are talking about feeds.

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4 Responses to My Mom wants a Feed Reader

  1. Colleen says:

    I had heard of RSS many times. It’s at the bottom of all the blogs I read, in advertising surveys, I just never bothered to figure out what it actually was. I got that it was a way to read blogs, but I thought that it must be complicated to set up. Then you posted exactly what it was. I already had a google account so I signed up for Google reader. I put my 40 or so favorites on it. I love it! To your mom and any other of your readers thinking of RSS, just sign up, it’s so easy! So Thanks Ben for explaing it to those of us who couldn’t figure it out for ourselves!

  2. Emily B says:

    And without my feed reader I would never have known about the return of Trixie Update! Thanks for the Flickr link. It was fun to see how Trixie has grown. I have a daughter exactly the same age and she loves to see Trixie photos as well.

  3. A says:

    Thanks, you convinced me to do it! The number of blogs I was checking was getting high and a lot of them aren’t updated daily, so checking them was a waste of time. My question is about your side of things. Can you, as the owner of a blog, see who subscribes (IP addresses, Google user IDs)? Or can you just see anonymous data, like that 25 people subscribe?

  4. benmac says:

    Good question. I know that if you use Feedburner, they tell you all sorts of things about your subscribers. I don’t use them, so I don’t know if I can tell or not. Could anybody else weigh in? thanks!